The Mercedes-Benz R-Class has received the prestigious Red Dot Design Award from the North Rhineland-Westphalia Design Center.
The R-Class was deemed worthy of the honor because, according to Peter Pfeiffer, head of design at the MB Technical Center, it creates "a visual association between the concepts of space, dynamism, emotion and speed."
Translated, that means that Mercedes was able to make a six-seater people mover that does not scream, "BOOOORING!" at pedestrians when it drives by. To be fair, the R-Class "grand sports tourer" (don't call it a minivan ... Dr. Z will frown at you) is quite attractive. Based on the number of them this writer sees on the road daily, it would appear that the buying/leasing public thinks it's pretty neat-looking as well.
Mercedes goes on to point out that the R-Class form incorporates design elements seen across the company's passenger car range. They use the dead-sexy CLS as a basis of comparison, which seems preposterous at first. A quick study of some side-by-side photos, however, shows that while the two vehicles are very different, they really do share elements that illustrate the family ties.
This is especially evident in the shape of the side glass, but becomes even more apparent in smaller details that are easily missed upon casual inspection. This meticulous effort to tie dramatically different vehicle types together is admirable, and shows just how much work Mercedes puts into its design. On a personal level, you may not like what you see on some models, but the sense of direction behind it is has now been made abundantly clear.
(Photos, press release after the jump)
Producing new, innovative vehicle concepts with eye-catching design is a long-standing tradition at Mercedes-Benz. Both the four-door CLS-Class – the first model to combine the athletic excitement of a coupé with the practical qualities of a saloon – and the R-Class, which combines top-grade comfort with a new, distinctive SUV design, are design trendsetters which are shaping the face of vehicle design in the future. "In producing the R-Class, we are the first manufacturer to create a visual association between the concepts of space, dynamism, emotion and speed," explains Professor h.c. Peter Pfeiffer, Head of Design at the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center. "This is a unique achievement."
In spite of the spacious interior design of the R-Class, Mercedes designers succeeded in aligning distinctive athletic qualities with sleek elegance. The new Mercedes model is proof that exciting, emotional design is not a size issue.
The "red dot design award" is one of the most prestigious awards of its kind worldwide. There were a record 2068 entries from 41 countries for the "red dot design award 2006". A total of 485 products in twelve categories were awarded the "red dot". Only 36 products received the coveted "best of the best" award, including the Mercedes-Benz R-Class.
Powerful interplay between lines and surfaces as a typical design feature
Design is a Mercedes-Benz trademark. The lines used in Mercedes-Benz vehicles not only stimulate enthusiasm for the products themselves, they also reflect the philosophy and profile of the Stuttgart brand. The design expresses brand values in visual form – and at the same time also characterises them. "Every model should offer a new perspective," adds Design head Peter Pfeiffer. This credo applies to both the new R-Class and the four-door CLS-Class Coupé, which Mercedes-Benz launched as a new vehicle concept in 2004.
Despite the obvious differences between the R-Class and CLS-Class, the two models share the same spirit. They represent the pinnacle of vehicle design – design that subconsciously arouses a passion for driving. The design idiom for both models offers an individual interpretation of the established family characteristics of contemporary Mercedes design. This includes above all the effective interplay between tautly drawn lines and tranquil surfaces. The distinctive roofline of the R-Class, which spans the body and defines the line of the D-pillar, intentionally creates associations with the lines of a Coupé and makes for an elegant, extended silhouette. The character line also comes into play here. It structures the flanks of the CLS-Class and R-Class and delineates light and shade between convex and concave door surfaces. The character line extends to the rear end of the vehicle and merges there with the rear light cluster, which continues the flow of the character line.
Another feature shared by CLS-Class and R-Class is the louvred radiator grille with the centrally positioned Mercedes star. It emphasises the width of the body and symbolises power and confidence. The front sections of both Mercedes models are testimony to the designers' passion for detail. The headlamps, for example, are evocative of exclusive optical instruments and perfectly harmonise functionality and aesthetic exclusivity.
Adding a new dimension to comfort and driving pleasure
The R-Class, the touring SUV from Mercedes-Benz, not only offers superb design but also caters to the needs of modern-minded people keen on recreation, who are looking for a car that offers tremendous versatility coupled with high levels of comfort. The 42-seater offers a high level of adaptability (load capacity up to 2385 litres in the long-wheelbase version), exemplary standards of safety and prestigious flair. The R-Class offers a whole new motoring experience coupled with dynamic driving pleasure. All thanks to a host of powerful engines with outputs ranging from 165 kW (224 hp) to 225 kW (306 hp).
The standard specification includes the 4MATIC permanent all-wheel-drive system, 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission with DIRECT SELECT and air suspension at the rear. Passive safety features include adaptive front airbags, front sidebags, windowbags and the optional anticipatory occupant protection system PRE-SAFE®, which detects a potential accident situation and prepares the driver and passengers for an impending collision in a fraction of a second.
The extra-dynamic interpretation of the new R-Class helps Mercedes-Benz emphasise the versatility of the new vehicle concept that scooped the "red dot design award – best of the best". The R 63 AMG, with its distinctive AMG looks, is fitted with a new AMG 6.3-litre V8 engine delivering a maximum output of 375 kW (510 hp) and the sort of acceleration you would expect from a sports car. Exhilarating driving pleasure, exclusive comfort and outstanding design come together in their purest form.